How to Make a Boat Greener and Energy Efficient

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Man with a Mission

Ben Ellison

Our Senior electronics editor converts his Duffy 37—a floating test lab for a dizzying array of gadgets—into an energy-efficient green machine. Find out how and why.

Over the years I’ve done a lot to improve the energy efficiency of my boat, a semi-custom Duffy 37. I even like to think that Gizmo is now greener than many newer powerboats in the same size range, though I use the term “green” with great care.

For one thing, applying the green label to a boat with a 450-horsepower turbo-charged diesel can cause your environmentalist friends to sputter in dismay. For me, though, it’s not about being good. While getting out in nature may be the thing I like most about boating, my personal politics about our ability to manage the earth’s future is most aligned with George Carlin’s prediction that “the planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas” if necessary.

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So I could fairly be described as the happy-go-lucky type who’s quite willing to reduce his carbon footprint as long as it’s not too expensive or uncomfortable! What I’ve learned, however, is that making a boat more energy efficient can make her feel good. Gizmo is a simpler, quieter, and more independent boat than she was in 2009, and a lot more fun to cruise, I think. Here’s how the boat got greener:

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This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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